The Cost of Fundamental Woodworking Tools and How to Finance Them

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Woodworking is the process of making, modifying, or repairing things from wood. Wood has been used for hundreds of thousands of years to make practical objects such as furniture and tools. 

I’ve been labeled various names throughout my career – a carpenter, cabinetmaker, wood maker, and many just call me a “woodworker.” In this piece, I’ll share with you the essential tools of our trade and provide guidance on financing them.

Woodworking Tools

Are you planning to start carpentry work or planning to start a woodwork project and wondering what tools you need? Well, the following is a list of the fundamental tools you need:

Chisel

A chisel is a wedge-shaped tool, typically made of metal. It is used to split wood apart by carving out sections. A chisel costs from $4 to around $7.

Mallet

A mallet is a versatile tool designed for delivering controlled strikes to chisels, stakes, and other wedges. It provides the necessary force without damaging the surfaces. Mallets are available at affordable prices, typically ranging from $4 to $12.

mallet

Sawhorse

Sawhorses are supports used to raise the height of the workpiece. It is commonly made from wood and has cross-braces for stability and strength. This allows it to support heavy stock pieces, while the sawhorse itself is a more mobile tool. It usually costs $106-$140. You can make your own sawhorse if buying one is out of your price range.

Bench

From my experience, a good bench is invaluable in the workshop. I’ve used benches to manage and secure large pieces of stock as I work on them. They come with ledges designed to support substantial panels and flat areas ideal for clamping boards securely. In terms of investment, I’ve seen them range from $229 to $1335.

Clamps

Clamps are used to hold down wood during the various processes of building. For example, a large panel may be held in place by a clamp while the glue dries. There are many types of clamps suited for particular uses or materials being glued together. It costs from $10-$100.

Reamers

A reamer is a tool used to make holes larger. It is typically not sharp but conical in shape and has a handle, like an auger. It costs $12-$100.

Router

A router, either a fixed base or excellent plunge router, is a powerful tool that runs along the surface of wood, essentially shaving away some material. By changing its shape or running it in different directions, you can make grooves, curves, and circles on wood surfaces, just as some saws can cut circles on wood surfaces. It costs $17-$159.

router on wooden surface

Plane

In my line of work, a plane is an indispensable tool. It boasts a flat cutting edge that serves the purpose of smoothing, flattening, or shaping the surface of wooden pieces by gradually shaving off small amounts of material. When it comes to acquiring one, you’ll find a variety of planes available, with prices ranging from as low as $5 to around $35.

Edge Trimmer

An edge trimmer, also known as an edger, is a special woodworking handtool. Its purpose is to trim off sharp edges on pieces of timber after they have been cut with other saws or edged tools. It’s typically built for tough daily use in workshops and yards by being made from metal rather than hardwood, which would quickly shatter without sufficient strength due to the stresses put upon it while being used. It costs around $18-$89.

Chalk Line

A chalk line is a string that leaves a mark along its path due to being treated with chalk inside it. It’s typically used in construction on rough surfaces where one needs straight lines. It costs $4-$35

Lumberjack

A lumberjack is someone who harvests trees for wood by cutting them down. They use various tools to do so, including chain saws, axes, and more. 

This woodworking term originally meant someone who cut down trees with an ax. Nowadays, most people don’t use axes anymore, but the name stuck around out of tradition. It costs $85-$236.

Electrical Saw

An electrical saw is powered via electricity (for example, an electric chainsaw). There are also battery-powered chainsaws available now. It costs $84-$186. You can find great saws among popular brands like Craftsman or DeWalt

WORX WG305 Electric Chainsaw

Bandsaw

A bandsaw is a saw that runs on a thin, flexible steel band that rotates a blade. It’s used to cut wood and other substances into various shapes. For affordable tool, it costs $159-$349, but it could cost more if you prefer high-end brands like Festool

Wood File

A file is a hand tool usually made of metal, with varying grooves meant to remove material from wood. They can also be used for shaping and smoothing hardwoods and sometimes metals (though this is not their primary purpose). 

The term “file” actually covers several types of files, including round files, flat files, half-round files, and bastard files. Most woodworkers only use the term “file” generically to refer to any kind of file they have in their workshop, not just one type specifically, so this term is rather ambiguous and confusing. It costs $7-$25.

Carpenter's Square

A carpenter’s square serves as a reliable guide for achieving those crucial right angles and 90-degree corners in woodworking projects. Traditionally crafted from a combination of wood and metal, this tool has a rich history dating back to ancient Greece when it was referred to as a “dioptra.”

Remarkably, even in modern times, it remains a staple for ensuring precision in angle measurements. Depending on the quality and features you seek, you can find carpenter’s squares priced anywhere from $6 to $49.

Woodraphic Precision Square

Awl

An awl is a pointed instrument with multiple uses, but its primary use is for marking surfaces. It is typically used to make marks that can be seen more quickly than ones made with a pencil, and it helps the marks stay on the surface longer than if they were just made by pressing hard with a finger. Its costs range from $4- to $26.

Carpenter's Rule

A carpenter’s rule is a handy tool that essentially serves as an extended ruler, crucial for precise length measurements in woodworking and other tasks. Its markings are designed to display measurements in inches, feet, and fractions, allowing you to easily scale up or down as required for your various projects. You can find carpenter’s rules priced anywhere from $9 to $29, depending on the quality and features you prefer.

Belt Sander

A belt sander is a power tool typically used in woodworking to smooth down the surface of various pieces of material by rubbing them against an abrasive belt that moves over time, so it doesn’t leave swirl marks on the surface one is working with. It helps save time compared to traditional sanding methods where you manually rub the object’s surface with fine-grain sandpaper. It costs $50-$299.

Angel Saw

An angel saw or ‘bow saw’ can typically cut through substances such as metal, wood, and plastic due to its shape, which allows it to get closer than other similar tools such as a hacksaw. Also known as bow/angel saws, they usually have at least two serrated edges (just like an angel). This allows them to cut in either direction when pulled or pushed. It costs $47-$159.

Hacksaw

A hacksaw is a saw that has a blade that can be moved back and forth. This design is unlike other types of woodworking saws where the teeth must face in the same direction to the material they’re cutting into (such as an angel saw). The moving blade helps prevent jams and stays more stable than stationary blades when cutting through certain substances. It costs $13-$38.

AIRAJ Hacksaw Set

Impact Driver

An impact driver is a power screwdriver with rotating parts that help make driving screws easier by using force to quickly drive them in rather than requiring manual twisting forces as regular screwdrivers do. It works by having downward motion on its body applied at one end in addition to the twisting motion of the screwdriver bit. 

It can be used to drive screws in both soft and hard materials. Its power output is adjustable by varying its speed (depending on the material one is driving into) and includes a counter that tells you how many total turns have been made. It costs $67-&157.

Tomahawk

In my experience, a tomahawk is a unique tool with its origins rooted in warfare, though its utility has evolved over time. These days, it’s commonly employed for tasks like chopping through tree branches or preparing meat for consumption. Thanks to its lightweight design, tomahawks are often thrown rather than swung. If you’re considering adding one to your toolkit, you’ll find them available in a price range spanning from $29 to $189, depending on the quality and features you’re looking for.

Tape Measure

A tape measure is a flexible stick or strip of material used to measure distances accurately. They are typically made from plastic, metal, or cloth and come in various sizes depending on the length of desired measurements. Some can even be pulled out to sizes up to 25 feet long. It costs $10-$32.

Hand Drill

A hand drill uses power provided by strong gripping forces against items that can’t be drilled into with regular screwdrivers (they just won’t stay stable). Hand drills can also be used to dig into materials such as dirt and rocks. Also, there are several saw attachments for drills to make the product more versatile. Hand drills come in different varieties, with cordless types being common for use around the house. It costs around $6-$59.

setting drill

Hammers

I’m an expert in tools, and I can tell you that a hammer is a tool I often use in my work. It has a solid head that I use to strike materials like nails or chisels, driving them into surfaces effectively. Depending on the size of the material I’m working with, I can select a hammer with the appropriate weight and size.

In addition to its primary function, I often find myself using a hammer for various other tasks as well. It’s quite handy for tapping items together, flattening substances when needed, and even removing nails from wood surfaces. The price range for a good quality hammer typically falls between $8 and $20, making it a cost-effective and versatile tool to have in my toolkit.

Pry Bar

A pry bar is a metal bar typically made out of steel that has been bent at one end to form an L-shape that helps it be used for leverage when trying to move objects or lift them. They are often made from high carbon steel because it is strong enough to apply force without breaking. However, they can also be made from other metals, such as aluminum or titanium, for lighter-weight purposes. It costs around $7-$42.

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Woodworking Tools Financing Options

Woodworking can be expensive, and finding the money to fund all those expensive tools and accessories can sometimes feel like a tall order. The price and cost of buying all the fundamental tools depend on the quality of the equipment and the number of tools you need. 

Luckily, there are several ways to finance your woodworking projects. It’s the smart way of paying for things over time without accruing interest or using credit cards. There is no need to buy everything at once so take it one day at a time. Here are some ideas on how you can find cash for woodworking equipment.

Cash Savings Account

If you have money left in your account after each paycheck, this will be your most immediate source of cash if you need it quickly and don’t mind withdrawing from savings. For example, if you have $500 in cash left over after your next paycheck and you need $400 toward new equipment, simply transfer the $400 from savings to checking. Be careful not to transfer too much, or you may need an overdraft on your account and incur fees.

paycheck

Personal Loans/Unsecured Loans

This option is easier to accomplish than a home equity loan, but the interest rate will be higher, so try to pay it off as quickly as possible. If your credit history isn’t excellent, this might not be an option for you unless you have someone co-sign or offer some form of collateral or find a lender that offer loans for bad credit

Depending on your financial institution, they may also charge fees, increasing the overall cost of borrowing money. Be sure to find out all details and hidden charges before signing any agreements and read the fine print carefully. Shop around for the best rates available by visiting more than one lender before committing to anything.

Credit Cards

This is not recommended because these are easy to get into debt with. You will find it easier to pay off one card immediately rather than paying off multiple cards at the end of the month. Although, if you have a high credit limit enough or apply for two cards, this can be an option but make sure they are low interest/low balance transfer cards so that you don’t run up your debt even higher to pay off your woodworking tools.

Choose one with a 0% APR introductory offer and only use it when you need something big like equipment or large payment plans on items. Also, remember that there are cash advance fees for using credit cards and relatively high-interest rates. There are no grace periods or discounts on interest rates either, so be sure to clear it as early as possible. Using a 0% credit card is a good way of trying out new tools without having to pay an arm and a leg for them in one lump sum.

atm card

Retirement Accounts

While it might appear unconventional, there are actually several methods for borrowing from retirement accounts. One option is a straightforward withdrawal, with the intention of promptly reimbursing oneself.

Depending on one’s age, certain exceptions may apply when utilizing these funds for equipment purchases. If borrowing from a 401(k) or IRA is not feasible, a Roth IRA can provide penalty-free withdrawals before retirement age, with the condition that you repay the amount borrowed. Below, I’ll provide some in-depth insights into the process of making early IRA withdrawals.

Grants

If your local community has any grants for small businesses, homeowners, or even nonprofits, this is an excellent way to get money towards woodworking equipment. To receive these grants, you’ll need to show that the money will benefit your business and that you can repay it within a certain amount of time. 

These vary depending on the organization offering the grant, but most will only require that you pay interest on the loan, so be sure to find out all terms before applying. You can also visit state-run small business assistance programs for more information on what’s available in your area.

robert headshot

Robert Johnson is a passionate furniture maker & carpenter, sought after for his knowledge on the craft.
You’ve probably seen his down-to-earth wisdom in USA Today, Bobvila, Family Handyman, and The Spruce, where he has shared commentary and guidance on various woodworking topics.

Robert is the brain behind Sawinery, where he aims to share tips, tricks, and a passion for all things carpentry.

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